Some of the world’s largest superyachts have their home ports in the Arabian Peninsula and had long been cruising the local coastlines before other nations discovered the wonders these waters hold. Countries in this region such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are now on a mission to make the Riviera of the Middle East an international yachting hub, investing heavily in world-class marina facilities and plenty of tourist attractions.
The Middle East’s diverse cities are connected by the waters of the Red and Arabian Seas, feeding into the Indian Ocean with its unspoilt atolls. The region is a diver’s haven, filled with colourful corals, bioluminescent plankton and marine life including dolphins, manta rays and whales. Venture further inland and these sun-baked countries have plenty to offer, from trekking to paradisical Oases or kayaking through flooded canyons in Oman, to soaking up ancient culture in Egypt or driving through Qatar’s otherworldly deserts. High-end resort and hotel brands have set down firm roots in the region, with Raffles, Four Seasons, Anantara and Kempinski resorts competing with local boutiques to offer the most luxurious stays onshore.
A highly anticipated superyacht project in the region, the Dubai Harbour Marina, has begun welcoming visitors into its 1,100 berths for superyachts up to 170 metres. Located next to the Palm Jumeirah and overlooked by the Burj Al Arab, the marina provides access to the ultramodern city with its lavish hotels and – if you explore deeper – vibrant local souks.
In Saudi Arabia, work is underway to enhance the Red Sea’s reputation as a superyacht destination. Mega projects such as NEOM, and its development of Sindalah Island, promise yacht owners an exciting and pristine cruising frontier, and a season that handily bolts on to the Med’s.
Further south in the Indian Ocean, the remote islands of the Maldives and Seychelles are becoming increasingly accessible for visiting superyachts while maintaining their charm as exclusive, off-the-beaten-track destinations. No longer just white sand beaches, untamed jungle and over-water bungalows, recent marina openings include Crossroads Marina in the Maldives on the Kaafu Atoll, which offers 30 berths for yachts up to 60 metres. Over in the Seychelles, the recently opened boutique L’Escale Resort now offers a private marina for up to 19 yachts. Such upgrades have ensured these remote island nations are more than prepared to welcome sizeable superyachts.